Hawaii Ships Train as a force in Koa Kai exercise
The guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), the guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57), the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe (T-AO 200) and the attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) perform ship formations during exercise Koa Kai off the coast of the Oahu. Koa Kai is the primary integrated training event for Mid-Pacific Surface Combatant units with the goal of achieving deployment certifications and training. Koa Kai encompasses Hawaii-based surface, submarine and aviation assets, and other commands within the Hawaii region.
Hawaii ships "train as a force" in Koa Kai
Story and photo by MC2 Robert Stirrup Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs 
Surface Navy and other combatant units participated in the Koa Kai 11-1 exercise in waters around the Hawaiian Islands on Nov. 12-17.

Koa Kai is the primary integrated training event for the mid-Pacific surface combatant units with the goal of achieving deployment certificates and training.

“This is the fourth, and by far the most robust, Koa Kai exercise. There are six surface ships, four submarines, two helicopters, two U.S. P-3 aircraft, one Canadian P-3 aircraft and two unmanned aerial vehicles along with many other commands and staff participating in this exercise,” said Capt. Richard Clemmons, commander of Destroyer Squadron 31 (DESRON 31).

The guided-missile destroyers, USS ChungHoon (DDG 93), USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), the guided missile-cruiser USS Lake Erie, and the guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57) took part in the biannual exercise.

Other units that helped support the middle Pacific surface combatant units during Koa Kai included the attack submarines USS Cheyenne (SSN 773), USS Tucson (SSN 770) and USS Pasadena (SSN 752); the ballistic-missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731); the Military Sealift Command oiler USNS Guadalupe (TAO 200); aircraft from Helicopter Squadron Light 37 and Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Two, and the Royal Canadian Navy; two civilian hawker hunter jet aircrafts; and a civil air patrol Cessna 182.

“The purpose of Koa Kai is to conduct warfare and seamanship evolutions that enable ships to transition from unit level basic training to more advanced, integrated training, and to exercise in a multi-ship environment that includes submarine and aviation forces,” Clemmons added. “Koa Kai serves as the primary means by which ships homeported in Hawaii are assessed as ready to perform their core missions in any area of responsibility.”

Sailors aboard the ships took part in various exercises during Koa Kai, including visit, board, search and seizure drills, anti-submarine warfare and live-fire ammunition exercises, among others.

Clemmons also commented on the effect of Koa Kai on Hawaii-based ships.

“Koa Kai is very effective because it takes advantage of the unique makeup of surface, submarine and air assets based in Hawaii,” Clemmons said. “Koa Kai provides a unique opportunity for Hawaii-based ships, submarines and aircraft to operate and train together in the local waters. It allows participants the opportunity to operate together and train as a force rather than as individual units.”

Cmdr. David Miller, commanding officer of Reuben James, said that the ship and crew performed well during Koa Kai.

“Reuben James has done a great job during Koa Kai. We enjoy being out here and having the opportunity to work together with the other units” Miller said. “We’re actually coming up on a deployment, so this exercise will really cap off our preparation and training.

Koa Kai supports the Pacific Fleet’s Mid-Pacific surface Combatant Operational Employment (MPSCOE) program, which calls for all of the Hawaii-based surface combatants to use the strategic location in the middle Pacific to conduct intermediate and advanced training.
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